Today’s Christmas with The Chefs comes courtesy of Catherine Fulvio, whose amazing new book Bake Like An Italian has an entire chapter dedicated to Christmas baking. Here she shares her Christmas memories, and advice on getting through Christmas without stressing out.
What is your favourite thing about Christmas?
Christmas is a great time to show off your baking talents and what better way with some edible gifts to wow your family and friends with…. I’ve been doing it since I was a child. It started with simple peppermint sweets but I am glad to say I have progressed to some really tasty Italian treats. This year’s selection will be coming from my latest cookbook “Bake Like an Italian” which has a dedicated chapter on Christmas Baking Italian style!
Why edible gifts?
It shows you’ve taken the time and effort to make them for the lucky recipient!
It can be a great way of spending time with the kids at this busy time of year.
We know they’re popular cos our edible gift class always sells out!
What is your first food memory of Christmas?
First food memory is plucking the Turkeys with my mother… She used to rear turkeys and sell them locally for Christmas and when the time came it was all hands on deck and a bit of a family affair. A more fun memory was the ritual of making the Christmas puddings and of course making a wish, I am now doing the same tradition with my own children.
Can you tell us a little about your Christmas celebrations, and what it means to you?
Christmas means a lot to me. It is the only time of the year when we close the house and the cookery school to the public so I really indulge in quality family time with lots of gatherings here at Ballyknocken, it’s where we all grew up. For me it’s all about time spent around the dinner table playing boards games and cards, walks in the Wicklow hills and catching up with friends and family. I also like to take time out to read which I do in the mornings over a coffee.
Do you follow your mother’s recipe for Christmas dinner or have you evolved?
I tend to mix tradition with some contemporary twists, for example on Christmas day I will cook my Brussel sprouts in the water from the Ham but then will give them a twist by either serving them with shavings of parmesan or a sprinkle of chilli flakes.
What unusual addition is unique to your Christmas feast?
I do everything with twist so it could be Roasted veg with orange to brussels with Parmesan shavings for an Italian twist and of course Panetonne for Dessert, this year it will be Chocolate Panettone from my new book, Bake Like an Italian.
What are your top three tips for a person cooking their first ever Christmas dinner?
· Don’t be scared to delegate – especially if you are having a big crowd. Don’t bite off more than you can chew ask guests or members of the family to bring a dish. You will find people like being asked to contribute something (for the most part!).
· Prepare as much as you can ahead – from shopping for non-perishables well in advance to making a freezing your soup course ahead of time, also you can make mincemeat and jar it and make and freeze the pastry so you’ll still be able to proudly serve home-made mince pies over Christmas.
There is lots you can do to get ahead.
· And for remember if you are cooking dinner, nominate cleaner uppers and washer uppers ahead of time, it’s your Christmas TOO!
And remember that Catherine has Christmas all wrapped up with a selection of Ballyknocken House & Cookery School Gift Vouchers to choose from…
With the release of Catherine’s latest cookbook, ‘Bake Like an Italian’, you can offer the foodie in your life a Ballyknocken Cookery School Gift Voucher accompanied by a personalised signed copy of her cookbook, which has dedicated chapters on baking for Christmas and Easter and many Italians bakes sweet and savoury…
Gift vouchers start from €50 and the Gift Voucher & Cookbook package from €145 plus p&p.
Visit www.ballyknocken.com for more gift ideas